Oscar Predictions – Minions: The Rise of Gru

Illumination Entertainment will rule the Fourth of July weekend at the box office when Minions: The Rise of Gru hits theaters on July 1st. This is the fifth entry in the franchise that began a dozen summers back with Despicable Me and the first in five years.

Some early reviews are out and they’re mostly indicating it’s a decent if unspectacular chapter of the series. With 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, that’s higher than the two previous pics – 2015’s Minions (55%) and 2017’s Despicable Me 3 (59%). Of course, Gru‘s number will soon rise or fall as more critics weigh in.

2010’s Despicable Me (81%) and its 2013 sequel (75%) fared better, but only part two received awards attention. It was nominated for Best Animated Feature and Original Song with Pharrell’s inescapable “Happy”. Due to Disney’s Frozen and the equally omnipresent “Let It Go”, it lost both.

Based on early buzz, I see no path for Gru to find its way to the Animated Feature derby. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Minions: The Rise of Gru Box Office Prediction

Illumination and Universal Pictures should light up the Fourth of July weekend at the box office with Minions: The Rise of Gru. The sequel to the 2015 spinoff prequel and the fifth overall entry in the Despicable Me franchise, Kyle Balda directs with Steve Carell returning to voice the title character. Other performers in the booth include Pierre Coffin, Taraji P. Henson, Michelle Yeoh, RZA, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Lawless, Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, and Alan Arkin. How’s that for eclectic? I’m pretty sure this marks the first collaboration between Van Damme and Andrews.

This series has proved to be a financial windfall for its studio. All four previous pics have made over $250 million domestically. Minions took in $115 million out of the gate seven summers back with $336 million overall. Immediate predecessor Despicable Me 3 from 2017, while still a hit, wasn’t as high. It premiered with $72 million and ended up with $264 million.

Three years was previously the longest wait between films. The five year gap is a bit risky as some of its fans are simply older. We’ve also seen a very recent example of an animated disappointment with Pixar’s Lightyear. 

That said, I suspect Gru will rise to the occasion with a four-day holiday haul in the $75-85 million range. I’m starting out on the lower end of that scale, but my estimate could go up in the days ahead.

Minions: The Rise of Gru opening weekend prediction: $78.4 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

Oscar Watch: Pig

I know, I know. For followers of my blog – you might be thinking… an Oscar Watch post on the Nicolas Cage pig movie?!?! Well, before you completely turn up your snout on the notion, I will just point out that the actor’s latest effort (opening tomorrow) is garnering some serious acclaim.

Pig marks the directorial debut of Michael Sarnoski and it casts Cage as a truffle hunter whose beloved swine is swiped. So how are the critics responding? How about a 98% Rotten Tomatoes rating and reviewers calling it some of the finest work of the actor’s career.

The last several years of the Oscar winner’s career has been something to behold. Cage is appearing in about four to five pictures a year on average. Most of them are direct to streaming and many are nondescript action thrillers with poor Tomato meters. Yet for every three or four of those, there’s another that gets some props. This includes Mom and Dad, Mandy, and Color Out of Space.

It’s been over 25 years since Cage took home Best Actor for Leaving Las Vegas and nearly 20 years since his last nod for Adaptation. Now let’s get real. It’s highly unlikely that the Academy will nominate him here (though they have shown their love for the title animal before with Babe). Pig is a long shot for any attention at all.

That said, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see a groundswell of Internet support with a campaign to get Cage back into contention. Don’t expect it to come to fruition, but stranger things have happened. That includes the very idea of this post existing before the critics weighed in. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Shoulda Been Oscar Contenders: Jack Lemmon in Glengarry Glen Ross

James Foley’s 1992 adaptation of David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize winning play Glengarry Glen Ross is an abundance of riches featuring some of the finest actors around. From Alec Baldwin’s now legendary speech to the assorted desperate salesmen to Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, and Jonathan Pryce showcasing their chops (and many creative uses for profanity), it is truly an actors showcase. Looking back, it’s surprising that it only received one Oscar nomination. I would argue they picked the wrong screen legend to honor in Supporting Actor. This brings us to our latest Shoulda Been Contender.

1992 was a huge year for Al Pacino. He had been nominated for six Oscars and had zero victories to show for it. That included amazing work in the first two Godfather epics and Dog Day Afternoon. Pacino was a double nominee in ’92 for lead in Scent of a Woman and in supporting here. The former would finally bring him his long awaited win. However, I would argue that Jack Lemmon should have filled the slot for the latter.

As the once thriving and now down on his luck Shelley “The Machine” Levene, it is Lemmon’s character that is the heart of the picture. By its year of release, Mr. Lemmon had already garnered 8 nods for his long body of work. This includes two wins – 1955’s Mister Roberts in supporting and 1973’s Save the Tiger in lead. His last nomination came in 1982 for Missing. No disrespect to Pacino, but this should have marked #9 and would have rightfully given Lemmon deserved mentions in five different decades.

Shoulda Been Oscar Contenders: Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor

In recent interviews promoting Coming 2 America, Eddie Murphy spoke about how critics went gaga over his dramatic turn in 2006’s Dreamgirls. It earned him his first and only Oscar nomination. He was considered the frontrunner in Supporting Actor but lost in an upset to Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine. Murphy’s remarks indicated that reviewers might have been somewhat misguided in recognizing his performance in Dreamgirls while ignoring his treasure trove of comedic excellence in numerous pictures.

Eddie is right and there’s no better example than his work ten years before his Academy nod in The Nutty Professor. The blockbuster remake of the 1963 Jerry Lewis vehicle found Murphy playing multiple roles and doing it brilliantly. The kitchen table scenes in which he plays almost every member of the Klump clan are worthy of a nomination itself. He did manage to pick up a Golden Globe mention for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy (ultimately losing to Tom Cruise for Jerry Maguire).

There are many example of roles played for laughs that the Academy unjustly ignored, but Murphy’s multifaceted turn here stands near the top.

Oscar Watch: Dolemite Is My Name

Ahead of its October 25 Netflix release, Dolemite Is My Name introduced itself to critics this weekend at the Toronto Film Festival. Seen as a comeback role for Eddie Murphy, early reviews suggest it’s just that. Murphy plays Rudy Ray Moore, who was instrumental to ushering in the blaxploitation genre of the 1970s with his title character. Craig Brewer, best known for helming Hustle & Flow, directs with a supporting cast including Wesley Snipes, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Snoop Dogg, and T.I.

In 2006, Eddie was seen as the front runner in Supporting Actor for Dreamgirls. He was upset by Alan Arkin’s work in Little Miss Sunshine. This has been eyed as his first chance at Academy attention since. The issue could be significant competition in a Best Actor derby that appears stacked already.

Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski wrote the original screenplay and they’ve specialized in highlighting colorful entertainment figures in Ed Wood, The People vs. Larry Flynt, and Man on the Moon. Once again, they could face trouble nabbing nods as that writing race is jam packed.

So while Dolemite should succeed in garnering the kind of praise its star hasn’t seen for some time, awards chatter might be elusive. There could be one noteworthy exception. Ruth Carter’s costume design has been noted in numerous write ups. Just last year, she became the first African-American to win that category for Black Panther. She could find herself in the mix again. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Dumbo Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (03/27): My Dumbo prediction has dropped from $65.6 million to $55.6 million.

With Tim Burton at the helm, Disney’s live-action rendering of Dumbo flies into theaters next weekend. The elephant tale (based on the Mouse Factory’s 1941 animated feature) is headlined by Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, and plenty of CG effects.

This is the first live-action remake from the studio in two years, following up on the monstrous success that was Beauty and the Beast. That lapse in their sub genre won’t apply to 2019 as there’s three more on the way – Aladdin in May, The Lion King in July, and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil this October.

It’s also not Burton’s first foray remaking Disney classics. 2010’s Alice in Wonderland was a huge hit that grossed $116 million for its start. When it comes to Beauty, Aladdin, and Lion King, they have the advantage of being based on 90s efforts as opposed to a title released 50 years prior.

Expectations for Dumbo aren’t quite as lofty and they’re in the $60-$70 million premiere range. That sound about right and I’ll put it right in the middle of those numbers, similar to what Cinderella achieved in 2015.

Dumbo opening weekend prediction: $55.6 million

For my Hotel Mumbai prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/hotel-mumbai-box-office-prediction/

For my Unplanned prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/unplanned-box-office-prediction/

For my The Beach Bum prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/the-beach-bum-box-office-prediction/

Best Supporting Actor: A Look Back

Continuing on with my look back at the major categories from 1990 to the present at the Oscars, we arrive at Best Supporting Actor! If you missed my post regarding Supporting Actress, you can find it right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/20/best-supporting-actress-a-look-back/

As I did with that blog entry, I’m picking the top 3 least surprising winners (performers who essentially sailed right through awards season) and the 3 biggest upsets in each race. I am also selecting the strongest and weakest fields overall.

As a primer, here are the 28 actors whose support earned them a golden statue:

1990 – Joe Pesci, GoodFellas

1991 – Jack Palance, City Slickers

1992 – Gene Hackman, Unforgiven

1993 – Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitive

1994 – Martin Landau, Ed Wood

1995 – Kevin Spacey, The Usual Suspects

1996 – Cuba Gooding Jr., Jerry Maguire

1997 – Robin Williams, Good Will Hunting

1998 – James Coburn, Affliction

1999 – Michael Caine, The Cider House Rules

2000 – Benicio del Toro, Traffic

2001 – Jim Broadbent, Iris

2002 – Chris Cooper, Adaptation

2003 – Tim Robbins, Mystic River

2004 – Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby

2005 – George Clooney, Syriana

2006 – Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine

2007 – Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

2008 – Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

2009 – Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

2010 – Christian Bale, The Fighter

2011 – Christopher Plummer, Beginners

2012 – Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

2013 – Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

2014 – J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

2015 – Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

2016 – Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

2017 – Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 

There are plenty to choose from as far least surprising winners, but here’s my top ones:

3. Gene Hackman, Unforgiven

Clint Eastwood’s Western picked up a slew of awards on Oscar night and Hackman’s inclusion in that race was never really in doubt. It was his second statue after winning Best Actor 21 years previously for The French Connection.

2. Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

It was director Christopher Nolan giving numerous awards speeches on behalf of the late Ledger, as his work playing the iconic villain swept all precursors as well. This remains not only the only win in the omnipresent superhero genre in the 21st century, but the only nomination.

1. Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

Like Ledger, Bardem created a bad guy for the ages in the Coen Brothers Oscar-winning picture. He picked up all the precursors as well for his role.

And now the upsets!

3. James Coburn, Affliction

There was clearly no front-runner in 1998 as a different actor was honored in each preceding awards show. Ed Harris took the Golden Globe for The Truman Show, Billy Bob Thornton (A Simple Plan) was victorious at the Critics Choice Awards, Robert Duvall’s role in A Civil Action was honored at SAG, and Geoffrey Rush (Elizabeth) was the BAFTA recipient. Surely one of them would win the Oscar, but it instead went to Mr. Coburn.

2. Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

In 2015, the general consensus was that Sylvester Stallone would punch out the competition in his signature role for Creed. That would have been quite a feat after Rocky took Best Picture in 1976 – nearly four decades prior. Yet it didn’t materialize when Rylance made the trip to the podium.

1. Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine

Along the same lines, Eddie Murphy was the strong favorite for his rare dramatic work in Dreamgirls. With Jennifer Hudson as a sure thing for Supporting Actress (which did happen), the musical looked safe for a supporting sweep. The Academy surprisingly went another route by honoring Arkin.

And now to the fields overall and choosing a strongest and weakest. For the least impressive of the bunch, I’m going with 2011. Here were the nominees:

Christopher Plummer, Beginners (winner)

Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn

Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Nick Nolte, Warrior

Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

When it comes to best overall field, I chose 1993. This is the year that Tommy Lee Jones got the gold in The Fugitive. That’s a rare acting win for an action flick. It was deserved in my view and the other four nominees were very strong as well. They were:

Leonardo DiCaprio, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Ralph Fiennes, Schindler’s List

John Malkovich, In the Line of Fire

Pete Postlethwaite, In the Name of the Father

Furthermore, I could keep going with other deserving actors that year, including Val Kilmer in Tombstone and Sean Penn for Carlito’s Way. 

The next trip down memory lane will be Best Actress and it will be up soon!

Oscar History: 2012

It’s been quite some time since I’ve done an Oscar History post (about two and a half years) and I’m at 2012. It was a year in which Seth MacFarlane hosted the show – fresh off his comedy smash Ted. Here’s what transpired in the major categories with some other pictures and performers I might have considered:

The year saw nine nominees for Best Picture in which Ben Affleck’s Argo took the top prize. Other nominees: Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook (my personal favorite of the year), and Zero Dark Thirty. 

Many Wes Anderson fans would contend that Moonrise Kingdom should have made the cut. And I could certainly argue that The Avengers (perhaps the greatest comic book flick and the year’s biggest grosser) was worth a nod.

The nominations in Best Director were a huge surprise at the time. While Argo won the top prize of all, Affleck was not nominated for his behind the camera efforts. It was the first time since Driving Miss Daisy‘s Bruce Beresford where an Oscar-winning Picture didn’t see its filmmaker nominated.

Instead it was Ang Lee who was victorious for Life of Pi over Michael Haneke (Amour), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), and Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild).

In addition to Affleck, it was surprising that Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) was not included. And I certainly would have put in Tarantino for Django.

The race for Best Actor seemed over when the casting of Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln was announced. And that’s exactly how it played out as he won his third Oscar over a strong slate of Bradley Cooper (Playbook), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), and Denzel Washington (Flight).

The exclusion of John Hawkes in The Sessions could have been welcomed, but I’ll admit that’s a solid group.

Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress for Silver Linings over Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts), and Naomi Watts (The Impossible).

Again, no major qualms here. I did enjoy the work of Helen Mirren in Hitchcock (for which she did get a Golden Globe nod).

Supporting Actor was competitive as Christoph Waltz won his second statue for Django (three years after Inglourious Basterds). He was a bit of a surprise winner over Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln. Other nominees: Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert De Niro (Playbook), and Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master).

Here’s a year where there’s a lot of others I thought of. Waltz won, but I think the work of Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson in Django was equally impressive. There’s Javier Bardem as one of the greatest Bond villains ever in Skyfall. Or John Goodman’s showy role in Flight. As for some other blockbusters that year, how about Tom Hiddleston in The Avengers or Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike? And my favorite comedic scene of that year was due to Giovanni Ribisi in Ted…

In Supporting Actress, Anne Hathaway was a front-runner for Les Miserables and there was no upset. Other nominees: Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), and Jacki Weaver (Playbook).

Judi Dench had more heft to her part as M in Skyfall that year and I’ll also give a shout-out to Salma Hayek’s performance in Oliver Stone’s Savages.

And there’s your Oscar history for 2012! I’ll have 2013 up… hopefully in less than two and a half years!

Going in Style Box Office Prediction

Call it Grumpy Old Thieves as Going in Style debuts at the box office next weekend. The pic is actually a remake of a 1979 caper comedy with George Burns and Art Carney about some old men cheated out of their pensions who exact the revenge. Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin are the headliners with Zach Braff directing. Costars include Joey King, Ann-Margret, Christopher Lloyd, Kenan Thompson, and Matt Dillon. Theodore Melfi, who recently directed Hidden Figures, is the screenwriter.

Style could work reasonably well as a pleasant diversion for older moviegoers. The box office has been dominated by family fare as of late and comedies have been in rather short supply (CHiPs didn’t exactly set the multiplex on fire).

There’s a possibility that this could put up similar numbers to Last Vegas, which premiered to $16 million. That’s on the higher end of expectations. I believe a more likely scenario is $10-$13 million with the hope from Warner Bros that word of mouth is solid and it does well in subsequent weekends.

Going in Style opening weekend prediction: $11.5 million

For my Smurfs: The Lost Village prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/03/29/smurfs-the-lost-village-box-office-prediction/

For my The Case for Christ prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/04/03/the-case-for-christ-box-office-prediction/